Many Chronicle readers will be surprised to learn that the recent defeat of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 was due in part to gun groups being on opposing sides of the measure in the U.S. Senate.
Ostensibly, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 would have expanded public-land access for recreational hunting, shooting and fishing, as well as renewed some conservation programs. It had attracted 46 cosponsors, including 26 Republicans, before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blocked votes on both pro- and anti-gun amendments.
Gun Owners of America and other hard-core gun-rights activists characterized the bill (S. 2363) as the “Harry Reid Preservation Act” because it gave cover to vulnerable Senate Democrats who are seeking re-election in red states.
“As you know, S. 2363 was a ‘nothing-burger bill’ which existed solely to elect anti-gun Democrats in Red States,” GOA asserted in a release. “This includes Senators like sponsor Kay Hagan (D-NC) — plus cosponsors such as Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA).” “All these Senators are rated as D’s or F’s by Gun Owners of America,” GOA added, noting “GOA also warned Senators that a vote in favor of S. 2363 would be scored in our end-of-year rating.” The National Rifle Association and the Newtown, Conn.–based National Shooting Sports Foundation supported the bill, along with arms manufacturers Alliant Techsystems and Daniel Defense.
“The National Rifle Association is disappointed that the bipartisan Sportsmen’s bill has fallen victim to Sen. Harry Reid’s political agenda,” Executive Director Chris W. Cox said in an Institute for Legislative Action statement. “By refusing to allow a reasonable amendment process, Sen. Reid effectively killed this legislation — a bill with substantive measures that would have enriched America’s hunting and sporting heritage.” “NSSF understands why pro-sportsmen members from both sides of the aisle wanted an opportunity to vote on amendments unique to their respective states,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation said in its statement. “That said, it is disheartening to see America’s longstanding tradition of bipartisanship on sportsmen’s issues sacrificed to the continued gridlock preventing meaningful bipartisan legislation. NSSF looks forward to working with the vast majority of Senators who continue to have an interest in passing this historic legislation on behalf of current and future generations of hunters.”
In your opinion, who was right? GOA, which didn’t want to give cover to Senate Democrats, or NRA and NSSF, which wanted provisions that protected sportsmen’s rights? Let us hear from you in the comment section.